Using Social Network Analysis and Deception to Expose Anonymous Organizational Structures

Social network collaboration graph

Come out come out wherever you are


Scheme so as to discover his plans and the likelihood of their success. Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots. Carefully compare the opposing army with your own, so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient. In making tactical dispositions, the highest pitch you can attain is to conceal them; conceal your dispositions, and you will be safe from the prying of the subtlest spies, from the machinations of the wisest brains. How victory may be produced for them out of the enemy’s own tactics – that is what the multitude cannot comprehend. All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved. Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances. Sun Tzu.

What better way to oust an anonymous and technically savvy organization than to use their own strength (anonymity) against them? What better way to drive them from hiding than by setting a trap and then watching the ensuing communication patterns as they frantically try to determine what is going on, who issued such a statement, are we really at war with X,Y or Z?

If you follow the news then you know that every once in a while an organization known as Anonymous comes out from the shadowy landscape of cyberspace to do good or do bad, depending on who you ask or what side of an issue you believe in.

Most recently, I came across a very sophisticated piece of financial analysis (PDF) that would seem to have come from someone very adept at forensic financial analysis. Was this really something that came from the same “Anonymous” that I had come to know? If it wasn’t then would I really expect them to turn down responsibility for such a nice piece of work?

When I came across a video purported to originate from Anonymous threatening the Zeta Mexican cartel after an alleged kidnapping, I began to wonder whether or not these latest events really came from such a group or if it was a way of testing some new form of technological warfare from someone who saw the anonymous group as being a threat. (FBI CIA NSA/CSS ?)

After all, how could an invisible group deny doing something? In fact, only a few days after the video was posted, another news story came out in which the veracity of the kidnapping event itself was questioned.

If I wanted to take down a group, why not start something with a powerful group and have them do the dirty work for me? And if I was having trouble identifying who was in charge of a group that was good at hiding, why not start something REALLY BIG and then analyze the internet traffic afterwards to see where all the talk was coming from and going to?

Further reading:

Social network analysis

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War

Collaboration Graphing

Daniel Millsap

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